Games credited with crime reduction - Study

University of Texas, Baylor, European researchers think "incapacitation effect" in games is helping keep potential offenders off the street and out of trouble.

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All too often, psychological researchers publish papers that link violent video games to aggressive and other antisocial behavior. However, a new study suggests that games--both violent and nonviolent--actually help reduce violent crime.

Could virtual Grand Theft Auto be preventing real-life grand theft auto?
Could virtual Grand Theft Auto be preventing real-life grand theft auto?

The study, titled "Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime" was performed by researches from Baylor University, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the Center for European Economic Research's Information and Communication Technologies Research Group.

On one hand, it did support the findings of prior studies linking violent games and aggression. On the other, though, it found that games actually reduced violent crime by keeping potential offenders off the street and out of trouble. The study called this an "incapacitation effect" and found that "Overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime."

The notion that games could reduce criminal activity is gaining traction. Recently, the BBC, citing the aforementioned study, listed games as one of its top 10 theories behind the drop in violent crime in the US over the past two decades. Other factors include a decline in the demand for crack cocaine, smarter policing techniques, increased incarceration rates, and the elimination of lead in petrol, which was linked to brain damage-induced behavioral problems.

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